The artist Hiro Yamagata (born near Kyoto in 1948) hopes to use laser holograms to create more than 160 faceless statues across the Bamiyan cliffs, all powered by solar energy and windmills. If the project is approved, completion is scheduled for 2009, and the artist has said that many of the windmills could also provide power to nearby villages.When I think of those vast, serene Buddha statues carved into the cliffs of Bamiyan, this is not what first comes to mind. A curious project. And the more you browse the artist's website, the curiouser it seems. The sponsor is Beverly Hills Mercedes Benz. Go figure.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
Wisconsin Film Festival advance ticket sales began today. Just got program. Need more time to make all our selections, but wanted to buy tickets for the one event we know we don't want to miss — and which is likely to sell out, having a big draw in a tiny venue, the Cinematheque. Roger Ebert will be introducing a restored print of the 1944 Gene Tierney mystery, Laura. Online ordering doesn't seem to be up yet, so I headed for the Memorial Union to nail down the tickets. The line started at the second floor Film Festival box office, snaked all the way through through the Union, down past the theater, threatening to spill out to the frozen lake. Turned out the computers were down and the box office hadn't even opened. I gave up and left, figuring I'd order online when the system came back up. Eventually, later in the afternoon, it did. Found what we wanted. Sold out. Just my luck. Still want to see Ebert. We'll probably go early the night of the show and wait in line for a couple of the last-minute tickets. Standing in line is half the fun, anyhow.
Thursday, March 02, 2006
Real life was an injured red-tailed hawk, perched on its handler’s arm, unexpectedly encountered in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden several years ago. An amazing moment, which I tried to capture with my digital point-and-shoot, failing completely. Like most photos shot on the run, it was awkwardly composed and completely lacking the excitement I was trying to catch.
This slice of life restores some of the impact.
It’s a mere sliver, cropped out of a larger frame, using less than fifth of my 2 megapixels. When making prints, you can’t throw away that many pixels without getting a fuzzy picture. Not so when blogging. With the inherently limited resolution of computer displays, you’ve got pixels to burn.
If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to look over your old photos from a new perspective. Who knows what slice of life you’ll find there, ready to be excavated and repurposed?
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
For some reason, hawks seem to love to quote Yeats out of context in order to accuse Iraq war critics of being "full of passionate intensity," as if that settles everything. Maybe it's the falconry thing. Here's Roger Cohen, The New York Times' resident "Globalist," about a month ago:
As Iraq slides deeper into chaos, the more appropriate quote would seem to come from the last two lines of the same poem.
Anyone who is certain about the outcome in Iraq is wrong. The country is not the Bush administration: loving or hating what America is doing there cannot be a blind reflection of partisan politics. "The worst are full of passionate intensity," wrote Yeats. He might have had Iraq in mind.
On those miles of concrete blast blocks, election posters are peeling. Is insecurity prevailing, as the walls suggest, or freedom, as embodied in those posters? It's the latter, by a small margin. Things are getting better in Iraq.
A TV grab taken off the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite news channel shows its reporter in Baghdad, Iraqi journalist Atwar Bahjat al-Samerai who was assassinated in Samarra on 22 February, transmitting her last report from an open field on the fringes of the central Iraqi city after sunset yesterday. Three Iraqi journalists working for al-Arabiya were kidnapped and killed on the outskirts of Samarra, north of Baghdad, police said. (AFP/Al-Arabiya)"Half Sunni and half Shi’ite, Atwar’s dedication to impartial reporting made her enemies on both sides of Iraq’s sectarian divide: she could never satisfy one without infuriating the other," writes her friend and fellow Arab woman journalist, Hala Jaber. That's what happens when a country slides toward civil war -- the middle ground disappears. The results are brutal:
The bleak facts were that Atwar had driven to her native Samarra after the destruction of its Shi’ite shrine but found her route blocked by security checkpoints. Wearing a green coat and matching headscarf, she made two live broadcasts from just outside the city.What can you say? Just one more death out of thousands -- and it was probably not even noticed by the people who thought this would be a cakewalk.
Her third broadcast, just after 6pm, was her last and her make-up failed to conceal her strain. Not only was she tired; she was telling colleagues she was worried that she could not get into the city, night was falling and she was a long way from home.
A small, hostile crowd gathered. Then two gunmen arrived in a pick-up truck. She appealed to the crowd for help but the gunmen dispersed them by firing into the air.
Soon afterwards more shots were heard. Atwar’s body and those of her camerman and sound man were found next to their van. The green coat was ripped by two bullets in the back. She also took two to the head. She was 30 years old.
"There was a narrative vagueness and the sense of a purposeful incompletion in a lot of the stories," said Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker's fiction editor. "In the context of a magazine, the reader would be left with so many questions," Ms. Treisman said. "But when you read the collection as a whole, you see the design."Good to know that The New Yorker would never trouble a reader’s mind with questions.
Monday, February 27, 2006
Highly educated workers have done better than those with less education, but a college degree has hardly been a ticket to big income gains. The 2006 Economic Report of the President tells us that the real earnings of college graduates actually fell more than 5 percent between 2000 and 2004. Over the longer stretch from 1975 to 2004 the average earnings of college graduates rose, but by less than 1 percent per year.We’re becoming increasingly oligarchic, he says. And, as he notes, “highly unequal societies also tend to be highly corrupt.” Sound familiar?
But income at the 99th percentile rose 87 percent; income at the 99.9th percentile rose 181 percent; and income at the 99.99th percentile rose 497 percent. No, that's not a misprint.
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Not long ago I dreamed that I was a writer, outspoken in opposition to the war. Sort of a journalist, sort of an essayist. I'm visiting George Bush at the ranch. He's putting on the kind of charm offensive he's known for among journalists, clowning around, making up nicknames for me. All smiles. "Pedro," he's calling me now.
Suddenly his mood changes, becomes steely. "You don't like my war, do you?"
He's got my number. I stumble around, looking for a tactful reply -- this is the President, after all. Before I find the words I'm looking for, he adds, ominously, "I could have you taken out."
Is he serious, or joking? I don't know, although the look he gives me suggests he's not joking. It seems pretty clear that he's using "taken out" as a euphemism for "killed." I'm filled with fear. One call to the death squads and that's it.
Then he's all smiles and jokes again. But I backtrack like crazy. I tell him I'm not really a journalist, my opinion means nothing. Besides, I don't really care about politics. All I really want to do is write fiction. Harmless stuff. He moves on, without responding. I don't know what he thinks, or intends.
Still weak with fear, I get a second chance to try and redeem myself (in their eyes) when Laura takes me on a smiley tour of the ranch, showing all the improvements they've made. As I accompany her, I enthuse about the work they've done and try to reassure her I'm a shallow, apolitical person, just a harmless writer of fiction that nobody reads. She nods, smiles her First Lady Smile, and I don't know what the hell she's thinking.
All the while, I'm feeling terribly guilty about betraying my personal convictions -- the Galileo of Crawford, Texas.